Un-Spinning the Declaration of Independence
I recently reviewed the Declaration of Independence in English class as part of a study on Aristotle and the rhetorical triangle (logos, ethos, and pathos). By looking at the manuscript through the lens of syntax, I discovered more than I had expected. But ultimately, I came to the realization that people have been spinning information for centuries, and the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America is one of the most lucid displays of spin I have seen in historical records.
The manuscript details the grievances of the colonists against the king of England, illuminating the hardships they have encountered and the suffering that they must endure under his tyrannical rule. But they deliberately spun the words. Of course, such action was required since the writers were trying to ignite a revolution in which lowly farmers would face up against the trained armies of Britain. But it is initially surprising to think how much the Declaration relied on propaganda. Yet in hindsight, it is an obvious necessity.
The most significant aspect of spin I found in the Declaration was the "Frame it and Claim it" trick. The writers framed the colonists as innocent victims of a tyrannical evil that controlled their lives. The colonists were "humble" constituents and "good people", who worked together as a peaceful community. The reason for the rift between the colonists and Britain was the savagery of the king, who contributed to the "annihilation" and "destruction" of the "lives of the people" and the cities. The writers used persuasive words to automatically swing the listener to the bias of the colonists, and the listener may not have realized it. The writers essentially played on the subconscious of the listener, spinning the listener's mind around the idea that a revolution was absolutely necessary. And it worked.